Over the weekend, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas offered an intriguing insight into the MSM’s approach to the liberal health care bill slowly rolling its way through the Democratic-controlled Congress. After conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer accurately pointed out how the Senate bill only pretends to be “deficit-neutral” by front-loading the tax collection process while delaying the payouts, Thomas agreed: “Charles is right. This bill is a fiscal fraud.”
But he quickly added: “I’d still vote for it.” (Video here.)
NPR’s Nina Totenberg attempted to defend the Senate bill as one that “actually tries to do something about costs.” But she, too, was insistent on the need for congressional passage: “I am not saying it’s ideal. But we have to start this. But if we don't get a health care bill this time, it is probably the last chance.”
Considering how fond liberals are of "teachable moments," it was surprising that CBS's "60 Minutes" missed one on its Nov. 22 broadcast.
"60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft took an in-depth look at one of the most expensive aspects of modern health care - the cost of end of life care. However, he didn't highlight the federal government's culpability in driving up those costs, or what it might mean for health care reform.
"Every medical study ever conducted has concluded 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die," Kroft said. "This comes as no great surprise. But, the amount of money being spent at the end of people lives probably will. Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctors' and hospital bills during the last two months of patients lives. That's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. And it's been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact."
In the wake of Saturday's Senate vote to move forward with debate on controversial healthcare reform legislation, CNN's John King may have posed one of the best questions asked on any of Sunday's political talk shows:
To get Senator [Mary] Landrieu's vote, just to proceed, just to go across the starting line, language was inserted in the bill that gives her state up to $300 million. To get Senator [Ben] Nelson's vote, [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] agreed to drop a request that you take away the antitrust exemptions for insurance companies...[Is healthcare reform] important enough to buy votes?
This marvelous question was asked on Sunday's "State of the Union." In attendance were Democrat Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Better still, King pointed a finger at President Obama who promised during the campaign "to change the way Washington works" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Breitbart TV):
When outrage erupted this week over a government panel's recommendation that women have fewer mammograms, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was prepared with the Obama administration's favorite talking point: It's all Bush's fault. Appearing Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room, Sebelius told anchor Wolf Blitzer:
This panel was appointed by the prior administration, by former President George Bush, and given the charge to routinely look at a whole host of services to make sure that new preventive services which had benefit were being looked at by health care providers and that things that they felt did not have as much benefit as we move forward were also looked at by health care providers.
Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) continued the theme on Friday as reported by Politico:
“The recommendation by this medical panel has been rejected by virtually everyone, including the current administration,” Durbin said. “They were appointed by President Bush.”
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" really went after President Obama in its opening sketch Saturday evening.
Not only that, his policies involving economic stimulus, healthcare reform, and Cash for Clunkers were also exposed as having absolutely no positive or future impact on unemployment.
The setup was Obama, played by Fred Armisen, doing a press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, played by Bill Hader.
As Jintao, through interpreter played by Nasim Pedrad, realized how much money the United States owes China, he questioned how we were going to pay them back if Obama's policies "to save money involve spending even more money."
Realizing he's being lied to, Jintao asked Obama to kiss him - "I like to be kissed when someone is doing sex to me!" (video embedded below the fold courtesy Story Balloon):
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday said the Senate shouldn't "focus on a man who has been retired for many years and writes a column once in a while."
This comment was directed at Washington Post columnist David Broder whose article to be published Sunday and already available online was harshly criticial of the healthcare bills in both chambers of Congress.
Given Broder's well-known stance as a left-leaning writer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referred to the piece in his opening remarks to Saturday's healthcare legislation debate noting that the Post's "distinguished senior columnist, certainly not a political conservative, expresses his reservation as a citizen about the steps that we could be about to take."
This led Reid to make his disparaging remark moments later (video embedded below the fold, relevant sections at 1:00 and 8:45):
A major charitable event is happening in Little Rock, Arkansas, Saturday, and former Bill Clinton apparently will not be in attendance because MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has politicized it on his "Countdown" program.
As Arkansas News reported hours ago, "Nine hundred people or more will get free medical attention from noon to 7 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center."
Unfortunately, according to the liberal website FireDogLake, Clinton has decided not to attend as a result of some of the things Olbermann has done on his program related to this event (h/t Hot Air):
In contending America already has health care rationing, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a universal coverage advocate, on Friday night's World News asserted “we have a lot of rationing, based on income, the kind of insurance you have, the way you can navigate the health system” and “a recent Harvard study estimated that 45,000 people died each year in this country because of lack of health insurance. If that's not rationing, I don't know what is.”
That “Harvard study,” which the CBS Evening News promoted two months ago, was really produced by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a left-wing advocacy group which touts itself as “the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program.” Study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of PNHP is one of five signers of an “Open Letter to President Obama to Support Single-Payer Health Care.”
What's $100 million of taxpayer money between a few U.S. Senators?
After reports surfaced of $100 million for Louisiana was added to the Senate's health care reform legislation, originally from ABC News, and subsequently commented upon by prominent lefties, like U.S. News and World Report's Bonnie Erbe as my colleague Noel Sheppard pointed out, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., took the Senate floor on Nov. 21 to announce she would vote in favor to proceed forward with the Senate Democratic leadership's bill.
She also responded to allegations that $100 million earmarked for the Louisiana was added to that legislation to sway her vote. She referred to the likes of ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl and Erbe as "very partisan Republican bloggers."
"I know that might time is up, but I would like to ask personal privilege for just one more minute to address an issue that has come up unfortunately in the last 24 hours by some very partisan Republican bloggers so I need to respond I think and will do so now," Landrieu said. "One of the provisions in the framework of this bill that I've just decided to move on to debate has to do with fixing a very difficult situation that Louisiana is facing and any other state that might have a catastrophic disaster - let's hope they don't - like we did in 2005."
Friday’s front-page “news analysis” by New York Times health care reporter Kevin Sack, “Culture Clash in Medicine,” dealt with two recent recommendations from quasi-government panels on limiting testing for breast cancer and cervical cancer. The recommendations have caused some outcry as a possible prelude to Obama-care rationing, concerns Sack dismissed as “anger and confusion” and some “political posturing.”
That stance is predictable: Previous front-page Times stories have nudged readers toward rationing with tales of “costly” new heart valves for the "frail" old, "wasteful" medicines and "expensive" new medical procedures that are only worth "a few months" of extra life.
The Times, which editorially supports universal health care coverage, seems to be trying to soften people up into accepting future limits on end-of-life care in the name of reducing national health care costs.
Sack managed to make the desire of Americans to live longer sound gauche, while suggesting that those who fear the recommendations are a harbinger of rationing are confused or just grandstanding against Obama:
This week, the science of medicine bumped up against the foundations of American medical consumerism: that more is better, that saving a life is worth any sacrifice, that health care is a birthright.
U.S. News and World Report's Bonnie Erbe claimed in her latest blog post that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which bans federal funding of elective abortion in the recently passed House health care reform bill, is "a privacy invasion of massive proportions" because it "would allow government policy to intervene in the most private of medical decisions made by women and their private insurance companies."
Apparently Erbe is not concerned that federal funding of elective abortions would also prove to be a "privacy invasion of massive proportions" for people who do not want to pay for the taking of innocent human life.
CNN released a poll yesterday that found 61 percent of Americans do not want their tax dollars used to pay for the abortions of women who otherwise could not afford to pay for them. Over half, 51 percent, believe women who have abortions should pay for the procedure out of their own pockets, even if they have private health insurance.
"This week's abortion conversation is about politics. Let's not pretend it's about anything else," Newsweek's Lisa Miller huffed in a November 18 Newsweek.com post, complaining about how the moral issues surrounding abortion are taking on a life of their own in the health care debate.
We suffer, this week, from a moral myopia. Thanks to the passage in Congress of a health-reform bill, abortion is in the news again, but with the same old warriors brandishing their same old spears.
But while Miller went on to list both pro-life and pro-choice "old warriors," it's hard to believe her beef is with both sides of that fight equally. Miller laments that:
Our entire health-care system (and the proposed reform) is rife with "complex moral issues." To activate our consciences only in the realm of abortion relieves those consciences of too much responsibility.
After airing what she described as a "hard-hitting" ad by the Center for Reproductive Rights which ominously warned, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have," MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman today lamented to Politico's Jeanne Cummings that with Sen. Ted Kennedy gone, Democrats lack a unifying figure who could defuse an abortion battle that could mar Democratic unity on health care reform.
Snyderman praised the late pro-choice politician as a "man of his church and of his faith" (MP3 audio here):
Well, now the Catholic Church is lobbying hard to get House language into the Senate bill and then hopefully get it passed. Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings wrote about this. And she joins me now.
In its opening sketch last night, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" mocked Vice President Joe Biden and healthcare reform.
With the President out of the country for a week, Biden, played by Jason Sudeikis, has picked the lock on the Oval Office in order to get something big done while Obama is gone.
He opted not to solve what's going on in Afghanistan because it's "a mess - it can't be fixed...It's worse than Scranton."
As for fixing the economy, "We already did it...The stimulus is working."
With that in mind, Biden opted to reform healthcare by "[caving] in like crazy!...The President wants to pass a healthcare bill so bad that he will literally sign anything" (video embedded below the fold, h/t Story Balloon):
Remember those free health care clinics MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow played up back in October after Olbermann's hour-long "Special Comment," about Republican opposition to ObamaCare and/or PelosiCare?
Well, now it's time for their brand of AstroTurf to be put into action. On MSNBC's Nov. 13 "Countdown," fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell raised the issue about the potential opposition Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., might have over the current health care legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate. And, Landrieu so happens to represent Louisiana, the site of one of Olbermann's politicized free health care clinics.
"Republicans, in a new ad, are targeting conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for indicating she might, might, allow health care to come up for up or down vote on the Senate floor," O'Donnell said.
The pesky thing about abortion for pro-choice stalwarts is that when it comes to the will of the people through their legislatures, they often lose more battles than when the voters in question are black-robed judges in a courtroom.
Just ask Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, who is bummed about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and its effect on the Democrats' hopes for a health care reform bill that puts in place a government-run health care "option" (emphasis mine):
When health-care reform passed the House by just two votes late Saturday night, I assumed Speaker Nancy Pelosi had several more votes in her pocket from Blue Dogs who would be there if she needed them. After all, that's how Washington works. I also figured I shouldn't get too worked up about the restrictive amendment on abortion that was added at the last minute because it would be stripped from the legislation when it went to conference and was merged with the Senate bill.
It took just a little reporting for me to discover how wrong my initial assessments were.... [D]itching the amendment advanced by pro-life Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak is unlikely.
In a week of surprising polls, Gallup has just released another that will raise some eyebrows given legislation just passed in the House last Saturday:
[T]his year marks the first time in the history of this trend that less than half of Americans say ensuring healthcare coverage for all is the federal government's responsibility...The current poll results indicate that, with the renewed healthcare debate since Obama took office, Americans have become less convinced that it is an appropriate goal for the federal government to take on the responsibility of ensuring that all Americans have healthcare coverage.
That's an eye catcher.
And given the ObamaCare baton just having been passed to the Senate, one would think an honest, impartial media would give these results ample attention in the coming days (h/t Hot Air):
On Thursday’s Countdown show, as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hosted fellow host Rachel Maddow to plug a segment on her show about pro-life Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak’s push to block any ObamaCare proposal that involves taxpayer funding of abortion, Maddow charged that Stupak was being "cowardly" in focusing his pro-life attention "targeting" poor women who "won’t fight back or can’t fight back because they don’t have the resources."
Maddow’s contention came as Olbermann – ignoring the political reality that not only does an individual Congressman have little if any influence in a President’s choice of Supreme Court nominees, but that even mustering a two-thirds vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade by constitutional amendment would be nearly impossible in any Congress, let alone an overwhelmingly Democratic one – tried to undermine Stupak’s moral authority on abortion by suggesting the Michigan Democrat was not willing to "fight that fight in the open."
While Lou Dobbs has always been an independent populist with some conservative bearings on certain issues -- illegal immigration chief among them -- conservatives should heed the old Reagan maxim when it comes to the former CNNer's populist conservatism: Trust, but verify.
After all, back in December 2006, fresh after the election which saw the return of Democratic control to the House of Representatives, Dobbs voiced support for Democratic universal health care proposals on a CNN special entitled "War on the Middle Class":
[T]his country has a responsibility to all the people in this room and Americans, all but the very poor and the very rich, are the ones being hammered because there is no program for the middle-class.
The media gave President Obama credit during the campaign for promising not to raise taxes on the middle class. He was on the trail in New Hampshire when he made a "firm pledge" not to raise taxes on any family "making less than $250,000 a year."
Obama is doing his best to break that promise, but the network news media haven't bothered to report it. On Nov. 6 when he endorsed the tax increase-laden health care reform bill that the House of Representatives passed on Nov. 7, Obama violated his pledge.
While Obama had offered broad generalities supporting various health care reform bills under consideration in the House and Senate, the Nov. 6 statement was the first time he threw his weight fully behind one piece of legislation.
Salon columnist Camille Paglia Wednesday called the recently passed healthcare bill a grotesquely expensive nightmare.
Better still, in her most recent piece, Paglia said the "passive acquiescence of liberal commentators" to ignore how Medicare is being vandalized in order to provide healthcare for the currently uninsured "simply demonstrates how partisan ideology ultimately desensitizes the mind."
Unlike most of the Obama-loving media, Paglia correctly asked, "[W]hy can't my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators?"
Readers are strongly advised to prepare themselves for the kind of straight talk on this subject that has been desperately lacking from press members that have clearly allowed partisan ideology to desensitize their minds:
"The clergy should stay off Capitol Hill," MSNBC's Chris Matthews flatly declared on the November 10 "Hardball." Matthews fumed with disgust as Politico's Jonathan Allen told him that Catholic bishops lobbied Democrats to pass the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care reform bill last week.
"I understand the [pro-life] argument" that the bishops brought to the table, Matthews added, but huffed that they should not "show up" on the Hill.
After the commercial break, Matthews took to the air again to clarify that it was not in fact bishops but staffers with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who lobbied the Democrats. Such a distinction, he insisted, was important.
Insisting that her opinion was not influenced by her views on abortion, MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman went on a tear shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST on her November 9 "Dr. Nancy" program, denouncing the "infuriating" Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care bill passed on Saturday.
As a consequence, women seeking to have insurance pay for abortion procedures under the would need to pay out-of-pocket for additional coverage for abortion procedures.
Snyderman hinted that she was annoyed that pro-life Democrats even thought it necessary to press for the Stupak Amendment in the first place. After all, Snyderman complained to MSNBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, she and her colleagues at MSNBC had done their level best for months to calm fears of pro-lifers about ObamaCare:
Perhaps it was an early Christmas wish, but "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer and chief medical editor Tim Johnson shared some overly optimistic thoughts about the health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives Nov. 7.
Sawyer kicked off the one-sided conversation with Johnson by asking him, "Well, if the president gets his wish and a bill either by the end of the year or the beginning of next year we had a simple question: What changes first in the lives of ordinary Americans?"
Sawyer's timetable is purely imaginary. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Nov. 8 that the bill is "dead on arrival to the Senate." Graham elaborated saying, "I hope and pray it doesn't [pass] because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
Saturday's vote to pass ObamaCare out of the House of Representatives was a nail-biter, passing with two votes to spare over the bare-minimum majority of 218. The final vote, 220-215, had 39 Democrats join all but one Republican in voting no.
Yet while a solid 15 percent of the Democratic caucus bucked the party leadership with their no votes, the media have latched on to the sole Republican defector: pro-life, social conservative Catholic Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), who has a tenuous hold in a solidly liberal Democratic district once held by the corrupt William Jefferson.
Time's Jay Newton-Small made much of the solitary Republican defection in Swampland blog post on Saturday, painting it as an abject failure of House GOP Whip Eric Cantor's "promise" to keep the opposition unified. Newton-Small had to add an update later clarifying Cantor made no such explicit promise:
Very often criticism of journalists is actually criticism of journalism. Effective investigative reporting entails asking the tough questions and demanding answers. Powerful Democrats, including White House officials, have derided Fox News for this reason. But even conservative bloggers are not immune to the "extension of the opposition" charge for simply asking the tough questions.
Late last month Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., held a conference call on the administration's reform efforts. Pomeroy reiterated his support for the House health care bill. Rob Port, of the center-right blog SayAnythingBlog.com, asked a question during the Q and A period, in which he displayed open skepticism that the "public option" would increase consumer choice in the health care market (audio and transcript below the fold).